RV update on Covid-19 measures

Racing Victoria (RV) wishes to advise of changes to the biosecurity protocols in place in Victoria to allow for the safe continuation of racing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols, which are developed in accordance with all current Government directives, guidelines and advice, serve to protect the health of industry staff, participants and the wider community; maintain 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs; and ensure daily care and exercise can be afforded to all thoroughbred racehorses.

The protocols are continually reviewed based on Government directives, risk analysis, industry compliance, participant feedback and the broader community landscape.

These protocol changes come following consultation with industry stakeholder groups, including the Australian Trainers Association (ATA) and Victorian Jockeys Association (VJA), and consider the number of COVID-19 cases both interstate and within Victoria.

Participants and essential service providers entering Victoria

Effective from 11.59pm on Sunday, 27 September 2020, any licensed or registered participant or essential service provider entering Victoria, will be permitted to attend a Licensed Premises in Victoria, including Racecourses in the Greater Melbourne Stage 4 area, within one week provided they strictly comply with the following:

1. they travel to and through Victoria via personal vehicle only, preferably solo and where that is not practicable have worn a mask at all times whilst in the vehicle;

2. they complete five days self-isolation, commencing on the day of arrival, at an approved Victorian residence and only leave for exercise or essential services. Residences that include anyone working within a high-risk profession (such as aged care, health care or food processing) will not be approved; and

3. on the sixth day they present for a COVID-19 test and provide proof of a negative result from that test to Racing Victoria after which permission to attend Licensed Premises and Racecourses will be granted.

Those seeking to enter Victoria under this protocol must first contact RV Stewards and will be required to provide evidence of their adherence.

The travel exemption provided to Approved Transport Companies remains in place, as does the order of 11.59pm on 20 September 2020 that allows Victorian licensed, registered or employed border residents, to move within the Government designated border region encapsulating the Victorian border with New South Wales and South Australia.

Jockey Weights – COVID Allowance and Spring Handicaps

Due to the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in Victoria, the 2kg COVID-19 weight allowance afforded to jockeys will remain in place until at least the end of the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup Carnival (7 November 2020) with the date subject to ongoing review.

As a result, the current weight scales for handicaps, other than Group 1 races, will remain unchanged as follows:

Non-Group Handicaps - 62kg minimum topweight on a 56kg limit
Group 3 Handicaps - 61kg minimum topweight on a 55kg limit
Group 2 Handicaps - 60kg minimum topweight on a 54kg limit

The weight scale for the two remaining Group 1 Handicaps of the Spring Racing Carnival, the Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on 10 October 10 and the Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on 31 October will be a minimum topweight of 59kg on a limit weight of 53kg. The weight scale for these races is traditionally 58kg on a 52kg limit.

The weight scale for the three Grand Handicap finals to be conducted during the Spring Racing Carnival has also been finalised with a minimum topweight of 62kg on a limit weight of 54kg – up from 53kg in previous years. The Benchmark 80 races are as follows:

1700m Grand Handicap Final – Caulfield, 17 October 2020
1100m Grand Handicap Final – Flemington, 7 November 2020
2000m Grand Handicap Final – Flemington, 7 November 2020

Jockeys – Permitted Raceday Attendance

Effective from 11:59 pm on Sunday, 27 September 2020 senior jockeys are permitted to accept rides at two race meetings per day, subject to the following conditions:

between the race meetings, the rider must shower (where possible), change into a different set of clothes and clean and disinfect all their riding gear (helmet, whip, saddle, packing and riding boots). They must also use different riding attire (pants, skivvy, etc) at each meeting; and 

they must not carpool to/from either race meeting unless absolutely necessary and, where unavoidable, there must be no more than two people travelling in one vehicle and masks must be worn at all times.

Jockeys – Green Team Approved Racecourses

Effective from 11.59pm on Friday, 25 September 2020, the Approved Racecourses for Green Team jockeys for the purposes of participating in trackwork and/or jump outs has been expanded to the following: Flemington, Caulfield, Sandown, Mornington, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Ballarat, Burrumbeet, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Werribee Racecourses.

All jockeys, both within the Green and Gold Teams are only permitted to ride at one of their two nominated training venues each morning.

Raceday Attendance – Trainers and Stable Staff

Effective from 11.59pm on Friday, 25 September 2020, the following protocol will apply to attendance by licensed trainers and their registered stable staff at all race meetings:

in addition to themselves, trainers are only permitted to bring a maximum of one registered staff member for each horse competing (i.e. four competing horses = one trainer plus up to four registered stable staff); and

all members of a training partnership are permitted to attend the one race meeting, provided they adhere to the limit on registered stable staff (i.e. four competing horses = two training partners plus up to four stable staff).

Raceday Scoping

Effective immediately, raceday endoscopic examinations (scoping) by the RV veterinary team, which are utilised to examine and diagnose factors that may have contributed to a horse’s poor performance, will resume for the following Group meetings between now and the end of October 2020:

1. Moir Stakes – The Valley, Friday, 25 September
2. Underwood Stakes – Caulfield, Saturday, 26 September
3. Turnbull Stakes – Flemington, Saturday, 3 October
4. Caulfield Guineas – Caulfield, Saturday, 10 October
5. Blue Sapphire – Caulfield, Wednesday, 14 October
6. Caulfield Cup – Caulfield, Saturday, 17 October
7. Geelong Cup – Geelong, Wednesday, 21 October
8. Manikato Stakes – The Valley, Friday, 23 October
9. Cox Plate – The Valley, Saturday, 24 October
10. Bendigo Cup – Bendigo, Wednesday, 28 October
11. VRC Derby Day – Flemington, Saturday, 31 October

The intention is to extend the service from Group meetings to all metropolitan meetings from 1 November 2020, subject to a continual review of COVID-19 case numbers and risks.

Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we are continually reviewing our biosecurity protocols based on current restrictions, case data and stakeholder feedback to determine the best framework for Victorian racing in the circumstances at hand," said RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson.

“Whilst we continue to act with an abundance of caution to ensure the safe continuation of racing and training here in Victoria, where we are comfortable that we can mitigate risks by adapting our protocols for the overall benefit of the sport then we will do that.

“The protocol changes announced today serve to greatly assist our participants, who have been incredibly understanding and cooperative throughout the pandemic, whilst ensuring that we also continue to offer the best racing possible for fans and punters in these unique circumstances.”